I was anxious meeting Deanne Quinn, GATE coordinator for the Davis schools. I expected an intense, intimidating woman. Instead, I saw a funny, warm older woman filled with passion and dedication.
She gave me her home and cell phone numbers. We spoke in the evenings after the children were tucked in. She is insightful and takes personal interest in helping children, teachers and parents.
Quinn, the Davis GATE coordinator since 1993, has received a pink slip. Under Quinn, our GATE program received “exemplary” designation and national Javits grants. Because of Quinn’s work, our GATE program is highly diverse.
The position is not being eliminated. However, this year the advertisement is starkly different. The 2012 posting stated “must meet state standards for GATE coordinator” and “appropriate level of experience to complete the GATE Master Plan as well as a Gifted Specialist Instruction Credential.” The 2013 posting eliminates these requirements, only “experience and knowledge of gifted education is preferred.”
The superintendent explained the 2012 posting had been erroneous because “there are no required state standards for the GATE coordinator.” However, the state standards for GATE coordinator have been recommendations since 2001. The justification remains unclear.
Replacing a leading expert with someone without equal expertise weakens our program. With the GATE Master Plan extended and much work ahead, we need our most experienced and trained person. The GATE coordinator should be a strong advocate for the program, including self-contained GATE classrooms. Anything less would demonstrate the administration’s lack of commitment to the program.
To replace a woman with decades of experience, expertise and demonstrated commitment with someone who lacks this would make one question the administration’s motives. They already radically altered placement into the program via the lottery. The longtime GATE secretary is gone and the GATE Advisory Committee has been disabled. Now as of June 7, GATE coordinator Deanne Quinn may be gone. This all happened despite the administration stating that the only change would be a lottery.
The administration has stated it is not seeking to end or drastically reduce self-contained GATE, but its actions speak louder than its words.